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The Parable of the Soils 3/4 (Matthew 13:1-8; 18-23)

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The seed that fell ‘among thorns.’

As in the other pictures, the ‘seed’ (which is the ‘word of the Kingdom’, 13:18) is represented as the Crucified and Risen Jesus. He is the True Word who—being the perfect declaration of who God is—embraces, embodies & fulfills every word of God. In this picture, the resurrection illumined crucified one becomes the scroll (‘word’) descending into the thorny soul.

The soil is once again pictured as a man lying on his back, awaiting the life that descends to him in the word. However, this soil is covered in thorns that reach up and entwine the word, choking its life-giving effects and leaving the soil barren.

Jesus tells us that the thorns in this soil represent ‘the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches’ (v.22). Mark’s account adds ‘desires for other things’ (Mk 4:19). In each case, the thorns represent what we might call ‘distracting preoccupations’. For this reason, the thorns in the image all grow out of the man’s own head. The clinging, ensnaring, spreading thorns that choke the eternal life from our soul are not an invasive species…that are, rather, those wayward wants—those focuses or attachments or obsessions—that all-too-naturally rise up from our own world-bent hearts. It is our own desire that binds us to ‘other things’ and incrementally fills the field of our soul with the briar bushes of creeping cares such that—left unattended—every clear path, every open patch of ground, every flourishing vine, will be choked out.

Who hasn’t felt this before? Who hasn’t felt the pricking, clinging, constricting effect of empty desires? I want this, I’m afraid of this, I can’t allow that, I must ensure this, I need to, I want to, I have to….when all the while, Jesus tells us there is only ONE THING necessary (Lk.10:42). May He fall upon the field of our soul as a merciful and devouring fire, consuming every passion whose root is not in Himself, stripping us utterly of choking thorns and so leaving us as a pure virgin soil, ready to receive and bear the fruit of the life-giving word who is the slain and risen Christ.